Jeroen Gerlag: Power to the people – cultivating solar power in India with funds from lottery participants

25 June 2014

NEW DELHI: Jeroen Gerlag, Bijli Communications Consultant, reflects on his experiences visiting Indian villages that are part of our Bijli - Clean energy for all program. Follow Jeroen on Twitter: @JeroenGerlag .

After having worked for the last six years for the Amsterdam based Novamedia/Postcode Lotteries, the world’s second-largest private charity donor, I moved to London at the end of 2013 to work for The Climate Group, a not for profit organization that is actually one of over 100 charities, funded by the Dutch Postcode Lottery. My role revolves around communicating the Bijli project, an exciting new initiative which was launched last year.

Bijli is bringing solar power to rural villagers in India. By working together with local businesses and technicians in a true partnership, the solar panels, LED lamps and other equipment necessary for solar power and light, are sold to rural customers.

At The Climate Group we believe that growth and development are sustained when people invest in them. And these villagers are happy to invest in cleaner, safer and more reliable electricity. Solar power not only brings the people more comfort and safety, but also higher productivity in their businesses and studies.

Right now we are reaching some 50.000 people in three Indian states, but together we can continue investing in clean energy and expand the project to even more people in India, and beyond. 

In early June I had the opportunity to visit some of the villages we work with, together with my colleagues Jarnail Singh, Anisha Laming and Krishnan Pallassana. First we visited Bagnan, in West Bengal, where we spoke with some of the women who run the Bangan Gramin Mahila Sammelan micro-credit group, selling handheld solar lamps to rural villagers. We also visited the local partner SwitchON.

Next stop was the village Sonakhali, where we again witnessed the difference that affordable, reliable solar power makes: villagers with their own solar powered lamps and mobile phone chargers were able to work longer hours, while their children could now study more regularly. We saw a local SwitchON salesmen explaining the solar power system and lights to locals, informing them on the types of solar panels and lamps and explaining the benefits of this reliable, clean form of energy.

It is this practical, positive approach to fighting climate which The Climate Group is known and appreciated for, not least by the Dutch Postcode Lottery. When selecting projects to fund, the Dutch Postcode Lottery focuses on  the impact the program will have, on whether the initiative will genuinely improve people’s lives. By supporting Bijli, the Dutch Postcode Lottery are recognizing that this is exactly what The Climate Group, together with partners, are doing in India. 

Climate change is a worldwide issue that doesn’t stop at borders, and we need to tackle it together. In this context it is heartening to remember that Dutch citizens raised the money needed to kickstart this Indian project, by participating in their national Postcode Lottery. 

Furthermore, by supporting an organization that fights against climate change and advocates for a cleaner and healthier planet, the Dutch Postcode Lottery participants are bringing benefits not only to the rural villagers in India, but also to all of planet earth’s inhabitants

About the Dutch Postcode Lottery: Fifty percent of the Dutch Postcode Lottery’s gross proceeds go directly to various charities. With 2.5 million participants and a total of 4.5 million tickets, the Postcode Lottery gives some 300 million euros annualy to more than 95 charities working in the fields of conservation, environmental protection, developmental aid and human rights. 

More information can be found here

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See our picture gallery of the Bijli project and India

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